[Advaita-l] abheda, bhedAbheda, and bheda

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jun 9 07:01:16 CDT 2010


It is indeed significant that abheda is upheld by Ramanuja.  In our language
what he says: 'Brahman alone exists with all other entities as Its modes.'
means: One Brahman alone appears as the various entities of the world.  This
is vivartavada.

Recently we had occasion to observe that Sri Jayatirtha too talks in the
language of abheda, although not in the 'blanket' manner that Advaitins
predominantly say and Sri Ramanuja optionally accepts.  The details of Sri
Jayatirtha's view can be seen here:


Here is a passage from Sri Jayatirtha’s gloss *TattvaprakAshikA* to the
Brahmasutra Bhashya of Madhva:

Sutra: 1.1.2: JanmAdyasya yataH  :  In his commentary to this very second
sutra, Madhva quotes a Rg.Mantra:  ‘chaturbhiH saakam navatim cha naamabhiH
chakram na vRttam..(Rg.samhitA 1.155.6).’  Jayatirtha comments on this quote
//chaturbhiriti: - sa bRhacchareero mUlarUpI chaturbhiH
*vAsudevAdinAmabhiH nAmamAtraiH
**svarUpabhedashUnyaiH* ..//

The meaning of Jaytirtha’s passage is:  ‘He, the One that originates, is of
a huge form, with four names of ‘VAsudeva’, etc. which are *mere *names and
are *devoid of essential difference.*’

We have shown in the above article that Sri Jayatirtha's position
on abheda, that is, 'svarUpa-bheda-shUnyatva' or 'svarUpa-bheda-abhAva'
is no different from the Advaitic abheda expressed as 'vivartavAda'.
The manifestations of Brahman/Vishnu as so many 'entities', 'avataras',
are essentially 'vivarta' of Brahman/Vishnu in as much as all this is possible
only when Vishnu 'associates' Himself with Maya:  prakRtim svaam adhiShThAya
sambhavAmi Atma mAyayA. [I manifest keeping My prakRti in control
thru My MAyA](Bhagavadgita 4.6.  And these entities are 'nAmamAtrAH',
mere names.

In Advaita too, these two lakshaNa-s: 'svarUpa-bheda-shUnyatva' and
'nAmamAtratva' are crucial features to establish vivartavAda.
All objects of the world, having originated from Brahman, are 'mere names' and
further,they are 'devoid of essential mutual differences' as all of them
are Brahman alone essentially.  All clay-objects, 'vikAra-s' are 'mere
names', 'vAchArambhaNam
nAmadheyam' and they are not essentially different from
each other, being essentially clay: svarUpa bheda shUnyaaH.

The only difference is that the dvaita school's abheda admitted is limited to
Brahman and His / Its manifestations: avatara-s. Advaitins see no reason
why this logic: 'svarUpa-bheda-shUnyatva' and
'nAmamAtratva' should not be applied to the whole universe, irrespective of
whether it refers to avatara-s or any and all chetana, achetana
prapancha vastu-s.
आत्मैवेदं सर्वम्, ब्रह्मैवेदं सर्वम्, सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्म...
If Dvata extends this logic to all objects, it will be no different from

Perhaps seeing this kind of similarity or a closeness among the three systems
forms the basis for the following:

Dr.S.K.Ramachandra Rao, a Madhva by birth and an Advaitin by conviction,
author of several books on a variety of subjects, writes in his  preface to
his book: 'Shankara and AdhyAsa BhAShya' on page xii:

// My interest in this direction was aroused when, even as a school-going
boy, I heard the then pontiff of the UttarAdhi Matha (of the Madhva
persuasion), Sri SatyadhyAnatirtha, telling my grandfather that he was
writing a new commentary on Shankara's commentary on the Vedanta sutra to
show that he *(Shankara) did not differ much from Ramanuja or Madhva. *I do
knot know if he completed that (.But) it was the learned pontiff's view that
Shankara had been grievously misrepresented. //

I came across the above only very recently.  However, over twentyfive years
ago, I had heard another anecdote about the above Madhva pontiff:  It seems
that the Swami was a very great scholar in Sanskrit and a greater admirer of
Shankaracharya that he had committed to memory the entire Shaankara Brahma
Sutra Bhashya!  This, I felt was an exaggeration, though I had come across
people who had memorised the Bhashya for the first four sutras popularly
known as 'chatussUtree' totalling to some 25 pages in close print.  It seems
the Swami would remark to people close to him, in Kannada: ಮನಸ್ಸಿಗೆ
ಹಿಡಿಸುವುದು ಅದೇ (ಶಂಕರಭಾಷ್ಯ).  ಆದರೆ ನಮ್ಮನ್ನು ಈ ಪೀಠಕ್ಕೆ ಇರಿಸಿರುವುದು ಅದನ್ನು
ಹೇಳುವುದಕ್ಕಲ್ಲವಲ್ಲ? 'It is that (Shankara) Bhashya that appeals to the mind
and intellect.  But am I anointed to this peetha to propagate that?'

The above Swami was greatly admired and respected by Dr.BNK Sharma, a great
scholar of Dvaita who endeavoured throughout his lifetime to propagate
Dvaita Vedanta through the medium of English.

Om Tat Sat

On Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 5:25 PM, Anand Hudli <ahudli at gmail.com> wrote:

> Ramanuja, in his vedArtha sangraha, has upheld abheda (nondifference) also
> as one of his positions, based on the upaniShads. He clearly says: "abhedaH
> samarthitaH". See 117 below:
> http://www.new.dli.ernet.in/scripts/FullindexDefault.htm?path1=/data/upload/0047/780&first=1&last=213&barcode=1990020047775
> The above is a key passage, as far as advaitins who may think that
> vishiShTAdvaita is diametrically opposed to advaita are concerned.
> Anand

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